A “small number” of seasonal employees at the Midleton Distillery Experience will leave the business in November after severe flooding in east Cork forced its closure, Irish Distillers has said, with the extent of the damage from Storm Babet expected to shutter the facility for “some time”.
Opened just three weeks ago by Tánaiste Micheál Martin following a multimillion euro redevelopment, the site was damaged when the Owenacurra river burst its banks last week, flooding the town to a depth of more than one metre.
Irish Distillers, the maker of Jameson and Powers Irish whiskeys, expects the clean-up and repair work to “take some time to complete”, a spokeswoman for the Pernod Ricard-owned company said. The site had been “significantly damaged”, and the extent of the destruction was still being assessed.
Asked if any jobs would be affected, the spokeswoman said: “There have been no changes to the organisation structure or any permanent roles.” However, she said: “Like many other tourism businesses, we hire some of our team on a seasonal basis to support with busy periods in our brand homes. And depending on the level of bookings and activity, some contracts are retained beyond that period. As is the norm in our business every year – a small number of seasonal employees will leave the business at the beginning of November, in line with their contracts.”
The company said in September that the new facility would employ 58 people but it is not clear how many of those roles are permanent and how many are seasonal in nature.
In a statement on its website, Irish Distillers directed anyone who has booked a distillery tour over the coming days and weeks to contact the company for a refund. “Our thoughts are with the communities, people and businesses in the Midleton and wider east Cork region who have been affected by the unprecedented and devastating flooding which occurred on October 18th,” it said.
Announcing the reopening of the visitor centre in September, the spirits-maker said the new facility had been “constructed with sustainability and efficiency at the forefront of the design”. Irish Distillers said the site had “the potential to welcome more than 200,000 visitors annually and will position Midleton Distillery as one of the top tourism attractions in Ireland, while supporting jobs and economic growth in the east Cork region”.
The spokeswoman declined to comment on whether other aspects of the distillery operation were affected by the flooding, which damaged more than 100 homes and businesses in the town.